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When I Was Sixteen

When I was Sixteen…           
            I stood
a novice among the heirs to the Moderns, dumbfounded,
struck to the core by a new way of feeling, of seeing.
            I was
an empty vessel needing, patiently waiting
for the cool waters of a relevant vision to fill me.
            Yet, I would make
the required pilgrimages: to both cities and countries
near and far, ancient and new, expected and unexpected where
            I would kneel
at the alters of pigmented flesh made tangible. Of illusion
made actual. Of devotion made from blood, from tears, divine.
            I would spend
countless hours dedicated to unknowable allegory. To
dreams long dead, written in a untraceable and silent code.
            To stories
misread because I’d never been told them. Stories
created for the glory of the Kings of God and
            the Kings of Men.

            Still, I longed for
a different kind of story, one told in a clear language. A language
that spoke for the disintegration of a singular and harrowing age.
Not made for but by. The creators’ visions created. Visions of
shock, disbelief, power, remorse, enlightenment, understanding..
            I needed
like O’Hara, to almost ‘fall in love with painting’. To feel
that gut-wrenching, spine-tingling, awe-inspiring
            lust for more.

            So I stand
among immense images, jubilant colors, enthralling ideas,
that everywhere engulf me. That play against my eye,
            my mind
as if alive. Pulsating pigment, luscious texture, tactile
surfaces of beeswax and of pigment, of the New York Times
            and of silk.
I want to run my fingertips over them, to caress them.
I want to run my tongue over them, to savor them.
I want to understand their related allegory,
    their unconscious dream,
    their wild and passionate stories of a time so near.
I want to take them inside me, and in so doing, to
    make them a part of who I am and will always be.

I look
centuries back with respect.
I look
decades back with belonging.
I look
years ahead with anticipation.
I know
who speaks for me and
I know now
where I belong


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
This is a lovely poem! I really liked the idea of understanding a painting's unconscious dream.
Apr. 17th, 2009 11:23 pm (UTC)
thank you, I very much appreciate your commenting.
Apr. 17th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
oh, wow, gayle. i love the meter of this. it is so graceful and just trickles along like a steady stream. this part struck me, especially:

pulsating pigment, luscious texture, tactile
surfaces of beeswax and of pigment, of the New York Times
and of silk.

apart from the alliteration, i could really see and feel the different textures.
Apr. 17th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
Good, I was hoping you'd like it. Thank you so much for commenting. You wouldn't know of a good book, meaning not too in depth, about how to write poetry, would you?
Apr. 18th, 2009 04:10 am (UTC)
i have no idea what books to point you towards as i've never read a book about writing poetry. sorry!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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